The ride-sharing community has experienced an explosion in popularity in recent years. Many people turn to services like Uber and Lyft because they can get convenient transportation at a lower price than a traditional cab company. On the other hand, traveling by Uber has its risks: taxi drivers undergo a rigorous vetting process and drive company cars covered by company insurance. Uber drivers maintain their own vehicles, and liability can become confusing following an accident. If you’ve recently been involved in a Billings rideshare accident with an Uber or Lyft driver and need legal advice, contact a car accident attorney today to understand your options.

So who is responsible for your injuries following an Uber accident?

Liability Basics

Uber requires that Montana drivers have insurance policies that meet the minimum established by the state. The state requires everyone, including Uber drivers, to have liability insurance that kicks in to cover bodily injury and property damage in the event of an accident. According to Montana insurance laws, these minimums include:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury per person, up to $50,000 per accident
  • $20,000 in total property damage.

Most insurers recommend more extensive coverage than this, but Uber only requires that drivers have the minimums set by the state.

Uber also provides drivers with a policy when they’re on duty. This applies when they log into the Uber app, but are not actively transporting a passenger. In this case, Uber has a reduced, or “contingent” insurance policy. Under this policy, people who incur injuries by a ride-sharing driver can receive compensation up to the policy amount – $50,000 per person for bodily injury or $100,00 per accident. When an Uber driver is actually transporting a passenger, the company’s full-coverage policy applies, which provides compensation up to $1 million.

If you sustain an injury as a passenger with an Uber driver, this is where their comprehensive policy kicks in. Injured Uber passengers can use the company’s $1 million bodily injury insurance policy to collect fair compensation for their injuries.

Uber’s insurance policy is a third-party insurance policy, which means it will only cover injuries when the Uber driver is at fault for the accident. If you’re a passenger in an Uber and the other driver is at fault for the accident, you would collect compensation from his or her insurance policy, just as you would for any other accident.

Unfortunately, Montana’s insurance minimums often don’t cover enough to address serious injuries. If an at-fault driver does not have adequate insurance, Uber insurance policies also function as underinsured or uninsured policies. This means you can collect compensation beyond what an at-fault driver’s insurance policy covers.

To review:

  • Uber will not cover damages caused by an off-duty driver. Those apply to the Uber driver’s personal policy.
  • When an Uber driver logs into the app and starts a shift, Uber’s contingent policy applies, which covers minor to moderate injuries caused by the driver.
  • When an Uber driver actively transports a passenger, the company’s full-coverage policy applies, which provides compensation up to $1 million in the event of an accident in which the Uber driver is at-fault.

Can I Pursue a Claim Against Uber?

Many people wonder if they can file an additional claim against Uber to obtain additional compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. Unfortunately, this is difficult to accomplish. Uber hires its employees as independent contractors, partially to protect themselves from the liability of their actions. Secondly, since Uber offers coverage to drivers who transport passengers, it seems unlikely that someone would prevail in filing a claim against the company itself.

However, a recent ruling in the Supreme Court may change the way that Uber classifies employees. Soon, Uber drivers may have full employment status, which could affect the company’s liability structure. If you’re wondering what happens if you’re in an accident with an Uber driver, don’t worry: the exact same rules and insurance parameters apply.